Volleyball was never her love. She was pushed to play the sport and ended up being the most decorated volleyball player in the country. Tracy Chaba has already been to Algeria, and United Arab Emirates to professionally play the sport. She tells OTHUSITSE TLHOBOGANG that her next stop could be Egypt.
When did you start playing volleyball?
I played volleyball from a very young age. I started while I was at primary school.
Why did you choose volleyball?
I never loved volleyball; I was pushed to play it. I loved netball but because of my height the coach pushed me to volleyball. I would be punished for not going to the trainings until I realised I had potential in volleyball while I was at junior school.
How has the support from your family been when growing up in this sport?
It was very difficult at first as my parents disapproved my association with the sport, especially my mother. She was of a view that sport will just waste my time. However, I kept telling her that I want to play professional volleyball some day until she saw that I was making some strides she began to ease up.
What was your family’s reaction when you first told them that you were leaving the country to play volleyball?
There was doubt from them at first especially that volleyball is not rated that much in Botswana. The fact that some players had gone out and came back also did not help.
How was your stay in Abu Dhabi, and what have you learnt?
My short stay there was wonderful. Even though the quality of play was not that high I learnt a lot. I learnt that I had to be a responsible player as I was considered one of the best in the team.
You just lost your team in Abu Dhabi what is your next move?
After the team that I played for was dissolved due to technical problems I had an offer from one of the teams there and even from Sweden but turned it down. I decided to come back home so that I can make decisions on a sober mind. Right now I am waiting on something from Egypt as some of the coaches I played under are organising a move for me there.
Prior to Abu Dhabi you played in Algeria, comparing the two which would you say it is more advanced than the other?
Competition was not that high in Abu Dhabi compared to Algeria.
Which has been your memorable moment during your professional career?
When I was playing in Algeria the team I played for reached the finals of the Algerian Cup after 12 years of not achieving that. It was a great moment for me to help the team reach this while I was still new at the club.
What has been your greatest honour since playing volleyball?
I have got a number of honours but the greatest for me was when I was nominated BNSC’s Young female player of the year in 2013.
You are considered one of the best volleyball players, what keeps you going every day to be the best in what you do?
It is all about hard work and determination. While in Abu Dhabi I had to train extra to keep up my performance, I even trained with the men’s team at times.
At your age you still have time in your hands, what do you want to have achieved in the next five years?
It is not all about me but others who are coming after me. When I play I make sure I put my all to show the world that Botswana has got talent. I want to pave the way for other volleyball players in the international arena.
What have you learnt from playing professional volleyball?
I learnt that hard work is the key. One should also be disciplined at all times in and outside the pitch.
What is the difference between the professional volleyball setup and Botswana setup?
The difference is that in a professional setup there is good infrastructure and high investment which are lacking in Botswana. The standard of play in Botswana is as good as some professional countries.
Do you think Botswana is on the right track to becoming professional some day?
I would say Botswana is on the right track. The country just needs more sponsors and facilities. The players are already there they just need some polishing and support.
For youngsters who would like to follow your footsteps or even further what is your advice to them?
In sport it is not easy especially when in a team sport like volleyball. What I can say to them is that to succeed it is all about determination, discipline and never giving up on what you want.
Youngsters have always been advised to have an educational qualification while pursuing their sport careers. Which qualifications do you have?
I did not do well at school. Maybe that is why I have been working hard to make sure that I have something to live by when I stop playing.
What are your plans after Volleyball, would you be lost to volleyball?
I am currently focusing on playing at this moment. Some say I would make a very good coach but I have never thought of becoming a coach. I do not even see myself as a referee or anything. I just was to be a player; I would rather go into business after my playing years.
Do you think Botswana can produce more professional players like you?
I am sure this can be achieved. There is already talent in Botswana and like I said they just need a little bit of polishing and more support.
How do you relax when not playing volleyball?
Volleyball takes most of my time really but when am not playing I spend time with my friends and family.